Determining the In-Plane Orientation and Binding Mode of Single Fluorescent Dyes in DNA Origami Structures

Kristina Hübner, Himanshu Joshi, Aleksei Aksimentiev, Fernando D. Stefani, Philip Tinnefeld, Guillermo P. Acuna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a technique to determine the orientation of single fluorophores attached to DNA origami structures based on two measurements. First, the orientation of the absorption transition dipole of the molecule is determined through a polarization-resolved excitation measurement. Second, the orientation of the DNA origami structure is obtained from a DNA-PAINT nanoscopy measurement. Both measurements are performed consecutively on a fluorescence wide-field microscope. We employed this approach to study the orientation of single ATTO 647N, ATTO 643, and Cy5 fluorophores covalently attached to a 2D rectangular DNA origami structure with different nanoenvironments, achieved by changing both the fluorophores' binding position and immediate vicinity. Our results show that when fluorophores are incorporated with additional space, for example, by omitting nucleotides in an elsewise double-stranded environment, they tend to stick to the DNA and to adopt a preferred orientation that depends more on the specific molecular environment than on the fluorophore type. With the aid of all-atom molecular dynamics simulations, we rationalized our observations and provide insight into the fluorophores' probable binding modes. We believe this work constitutes an important step toward manipulating the orientation of single fluorophores in DNA origami structures, which is vital for the development of more efficient and reproducible self-assembled nanophotonic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5109-5117
Number of pages9
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 23 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA nanotechnology
  • polarization-resolved microscopy
  • single-molecule fluorescence
  • super-resolution microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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